Yesterday, Kim and I joined my cousins for an afternoon trip to the Oregon Coast. Our aim was to harvest a bounty of clams. We came home with zero. We managed, however, to harvest a bounty of mussels. Plus, the dog had fun.
My cousin Duane carpooled with us to and from the beach. We rode in Kim’s car: a 1997 Honda Accord that’s showing signs of its age.
“It’s a little warm in here,” Duane said about ten minutes into our drive. “Would you mind turning down the heat?”
“Well, I can’t turn down the air,” Kim said. “It’s stuck on high. But I can turn down the temperature.” She laughed as she demonstrated that the knob for the air volume has broken off at the post. The vents now permanently blow at full force.
“This car is falling to pieces,” I said. “Literally.” As if to prove my point, a bit of molding fell from a roof handle. I picked it up and wedged it back into place.
“I like my car,” Kim said. “I have an emotional attachment to it. But I’ve come to the realization that it’s time to start searching for something else.”
More and more, it looks like our vehicles have reached the end of the road.
The End of the Road
Kim bought her car 22 years ago at a model-year closeout sale. It’s lived with her in Minnesota, Arizona, California, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. In that time, the Accord has logged nearly 250,000 miles and never given her any major problems.
For a decade, I’ve been driving the 2004 Mini Cooper I bought as my first exercise in saving after I paid off my debt. In the ten years I’ve had it, I’ve put 90,000 miles on my Mini (bringing its total mileage to 150,000). We even took the Mini with us on our 15-month cross-country RV adventure!
Until the past couple of years, the Mini was trouble-free. During the RV trip, however, the fuel pump died. Then, when we got home, I funneled about $4000 into several repairs over a twelve-month span.
This winter, the Mini developed another problem: The sunroof began to leak (and in a big way). This isn’t good during rainy Oregon winters. In fact, it basically means my little yellow friend is unusable until things dry out.
Meanwhile, the old reliable Accord has developed an oil leak. The leak is dripping onto the fan belt. Our mechanic says Kim’s car needs about $1500 in repairs. That’s not too bad, but it’s more than the car is worth. Plus, we suspect that’s just a small taste of what’s to come.
Because I could see the writing on the wall — and because we need something to haul Big Stuff at our country cottage — I picked up a 1993 Toyota pickup at the end of 2018. I love it. (Seriously, I do. I just bought Taylor Swift’s latest album on cassette so that I can make use of the tape deck, which makes it even more fun.)
But the truck is a stop-gap measure. Kim and I feel like it’s time to pick up a newer, more reliable vehicle. Neither of us relishes this idea, but that’s where we…
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